Welcome BOS members and all interested in birding Western New York and Southeastern Ontario!

featured bird photo
Pine Siskin © Willie D'Anna

Scoping December

While overall species variety decreases through the fall, including December, this month is often very exciting. The Niagara River is the focal point for much of the birding activity. Climate change has pushed the gull peak on the river during some years from November to December. Nineteen species of gulls have been found on the river – birders scour the Bonaparte's and Herring Gulls for Little Gull, Sabine's Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Black-headed Gull, the “white-winged” gulls (Thayer's, Iceland, and Glaucous) and hope for something ultra rare, like Slaty-backed Gull, California Gull, Mew Gull, or even a Ross’s Gull.

The goose migration is ongoing and December can produce Cackling Goose, Greater White-fronted Geese, or Ross’s Goose.

Diving Ducks continue to build on the Niagara River and the Great Lakes with often immense concentrations of Greater Scaup, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye and other ducks at the head of the Niagara River in Buffalo/Fort Erie. Canvasback finally starts to arrive in numbers on the Niagara River. Birders scope through the diving ducks on the river and the Great Lakes in search of rarities like Harlequin Duck (regular on the Niagara River), King Eider, Barrow’s Goldeneye, and the extremely rare Tufted Duck.

Dunkirk Harbor can be a great place for observing waterbirds on Lake Erie, with many of the same Niagara River rarities appearing there. The harbor has produced more Laughing Gulls than anywhere else in the Region.

A few Snowy Owls are found most winters and, in irruption years, they will appear in many places during this month. Look for them at airports, along the shores of the Great Lakes, and in wide open fields. Short-eared Owls settle in to their few favored wintering spots.

There are many Christmas Bird Counts conducted in the latter half of the month and they inevitably turn up some great rarities or unusual lingering species. Some examples include Varied Thrush, Harris’s Sparrow, Western Tanager, and Townsend’s Solitaire, as well as Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow-throated Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Baltimore Oriole.

Expected, though sometimes local species, like Horned Lark, Snow Bunting, and Lapland Longspur, are found in manured fields. Rough-legged Hawks can be found in the same fields but these days, they seem somewhat more frequent in our southern tier. Feeder watchers enjoy the company of Dark-eyed Juncos and American Tree Sparrows and perhaps a White-throated Sparrow or two, along with the regular clientele of chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and American Goldfinch. Some years, Pine Siskins and Common Redpolls may appear with Evening Grosbeaks especially in our southern tier.


The Buffalo Ornithological Society (BOS) has something to offer to anyone passionate about birds: from the backyard feeder- watcher, the avid lister or the environmental activist, to the dedicated citizen scientist or the professional ornithologist. Society activities include regular programs, field trips, intensive long-term bird counts, checklist and date guide development, varied research activities, and involvement in local conservation efforts. We invite you to join in the activities of the society!

 BOS Membership  

The Buffalo Ornithological Society, Inc. was established in 1929 to promote the study of the birds of the Niagara Frontier Region. Annual grants are awarded by the BOS to fund member-sponsored avian research projects. We are proud of our extensive scientific research databases, our continuing involvement in environmental and conservation activities that impact birds, and our promotion of the enjoyment of ornithology.

The BOS coverage area includes Western New York and parts of nearby Ontario, Canada. This region is rich in bird life with over 380 species and 25 recognizable subspecies of birds recorded. Explore our site to learn more about where to report and find birds, both regional specialties and rare visitors.


  Mark Your Calendar Now!

2017 NYS Birders Conference / NYSOA Annual Meeting
November 10-12, 2017

The Buffalo Ornithological Society is hard at work planning the 2017 NYS Birders Conference and NYSOA Annual Meeting. The conference will be held at the new Hilton Hotel right at the entrance to Niagara Falls State Park, November 10-12, 2017 (Veteran's Day weekend).

Why so late in the year? Because the birding is fabulous then! Gulls! Phalaropes! Kittiwakes! You just never know!

Mark your calendar now and check back here for details in the months ahead.


  A New Web Address

Our BOS website can now be reached using a shorter web address. Use either BOSBirds.com or BOSBirds.org - both will get you right to this same website with a lot less typing! If you have the old address bookmarked, there's no need to change it; it still works!

And don't forget, if you are a BOS member and haven't created your online account yet, go to our Registration page. Your online account will give you access to the member-only portion of this website where you can browse past issues of The Prothonotary, view the member directory, renew your dues, review meeting notes, and more.

If you haven't joined the BOS yet, please consider it!


  We're on Facebook Now!

The BOS has started a group on Facebook. If you're a Facebook user, you can check out our new group at: BOS Birds. If you're a BOS member, ask to become a Facebook group member if you aren't already!

The intention is to use this page to provide event and meeting reminders, noteworthy record submission reminders, BOS and CBC count information, provide a place for event and field trip photos, and offer a forum for discussions on anything that is bird or BOS-related.


  Upcoming Field Trips and Events

Several field trips, meetings, and events have recently been added to our calendar. Take a look and be sure to join us at a meeting or on one of our field trips!

NOTE: The full schedule of this year's CBCs can be found on our CBC page:   CBC Schedule

Dec 14, 2016

Meeting - Holiday Celebration and a Talk on the Niagara River and Outer Harbor

Details: (click for more info)

Wednesday, December 14th at 7PM: BOS Meeting in the Cummings Room of the Buffalo Museum of Science.

Jay Burney, Chair of the Friends of Times Beach Nature Preserve, Executive Director of the Pollinator Conservation Association, founding partner of the Our Outer Harbor campaign, and habitat chair of the Western New York Environmental Alliance, will share stories and videos about Niagara River and Outer Harbor birds and other wildlife, ecology, and the efforts to ensure protection and conservation of critical regional assets, especially on Buffalo's Outer Harbor.

We will also hold our Annual Holiday Celebration so please bring a treat to share and enjoy an
evening of birding friendship. We will also elect officers for the year 2017.


Jan 11, 2017

Meeting - "Rarity Roundup!"

Details: (click for more info)

Our Second Annual Rarity Roundup!

Wednesday, January 11th at 7PM: BOS Meeting in the Cummings Room of the Buffalo Museum of Science.

A slideshow of photos and stories will be presented by BOS members that will include some of the rarities seen in the BOS study area in 2016!

If you have photos and stories of any rarities you saw in 2016, please email the photo(s) to Sue Barth at: suebarth@verizon.net or Alec Humann at: alechumann@msn.com.


Jan 15, 2017

January Waterfowl Count and Mid-winter Bald Eagle Survey

Details: (click for more info)

The count window is from Jan. 14-22. However, counters are urged to use the target date of Sunday, Jan 15, weather permitting, to avoid potential double or under counting. Contact the compiler for info. Jim Landau at 716-941-3869 or landaujr@gmail.com.

See our Waterfowl Count page for more details: Waterfowl Count



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